"Guitar is the best form of self-expression I know. Everything else, and I'm sort of tripping around, trying to figure my way through life." -Slash 

What would a rock band be without the wicked sounds of a guitarist? Can you imagine The Beatles without George Harrison, Queen without Brian May, or The Rolling Stones without Keith Richards? Probably not.

Guitarists play a fundamental role in the overall brilliance of performing live and recorded music. 

Therefore, as a result of the classic sounds created by the world's most gifted guitar players, many people all over the world have decided to pursue their dreams and learn more about the chords and rhythms produced by the guitar.

It has been estimated that there are hundreds of millions of individuals in countries across the six inhabited continents that know how to play the guitar. So why not join the club and learn more about how to play the guitar today?

Without further ado, we shall consider how many guitar levels there are in the UK and how learners can slowly grasp the basics of guitar playing to one day jam out just like the greats!

Studying With the ABRSM

The ABRSM. What is that? First of all, we can assure you that the ABRSM is a qualified organisation and not an acronym for a terminal disease!

playing with notes
In all eight grades of Practical Guitar lessons, scales and arpeggios are analysed. (Source: Unsplash)

It is essential to state that the ABRSM serves a beneficial function in the UK and abroad. How's that? For instance, before learning about how many exam grades there are, it is essential to recognise that there is an exam board/organisation that dictates the number of levels that must be studied and the curriculum that should be reviewed; the ABRSM serves that purpose.

Based out of London, the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music is an examinations board and registered charity that completes the vital task of providing music examinations for musical instruments such as the piano, the drums, the guitar, etc.

Although the ABRSM is based in the United Kingdom and got its start there, it has become a worldwide organisation providing music exams to over 600,000 candidates in 93 countries; that's impressive!

But why study a musical instrument such as the guitar with an examination board? An excellent question that has been asked by a lot of music enthusiasts and that deserves a straightforward answer: it's only so much better than being self-taught. Nonetheless, to better explain things, the following list considers a few reasons why students should undergo exam grades with the ABRSM:

  • Organised: the way that the ABRSM has organised exam grades is deserving of much praise. Every class features different pieces that need to be analysed, scales and arpeggios that must be learnt, and aural testing that improves overall listening skills,
  • Access to Resources: to ensure that students pass their music exam grades, there are plenty of textbooks, mobile apps, and online resources that make the learning process more enjoyable,
  • Professional Examiners: with plenty of students passing through the end of grade exams, there is a need for a lot of experienced examiners and, thankfully, the ABRSM has a large number of them. Examiners with the ABRSM are experts in their field and know how to grade students and have them reach their potential effectively.
  • Teacher Support: have a music-based question and need help to answer it? Have no fear; teacher support is here to save the day! With personalised videos that enhance your lessons with tips and tricks from a community of professional music tutors and some downloadable resources that include activity ideas and reading packs, the ABRSM teacher support is an excellent tool for those who need additional assistance.

Have these reasons for studying with the ABRSM convinced you? We sure hope so! In all honesty, checking with a reputable examinations board like the ABRSM takes the pressure off of learning on your own and ensures success in the most structured way possible.

the legends of guitar
Keith Richards, Jimmy Page, and BB King are some of the legends people want to imitate. (Source: Unsplash)

Nonetheless, before concluding this section, it is essential to keep in mind that hiring a guitar tutor while studying with the ABRSM is a different manner in which to guarantee the successful acquisition of the nuances of playing the guitar.

Did you know that skipping guitar grades is a possibility? Click here to find out more.

Analysing Guitar Levels in the UK

Now that we've convinced you to consider the possibility of studying with the ABRSM, it is vital to know the details about the guitar programmes with the ABRSM and how long they take.

How many examination grades are there for those who want to study the guitar? 

According to the most recent information on the ABRSM website, the Practical Guitar exams have six grades of assessments and instruction.

What is considered in each grade of the ABRSM guitar exams? Well, it is essential to mention that all levels, one through eight, consist of the following:

  • Three pieces,
  • Scales and arpeggios,
  • Sight-reading,
  • Aural tests.

At the end of a grade, there is an examination and assessors provide the candidate with a maximum result of 150 marks. For example, you need 100 marks to receive a pass, 120 marks to acquire merit, and 130 to receive the highest honour of catching a distinction.

hiring a tutor
Getting a tutor to learn more about the guitar chords is a brilliant idea. (Source: Unsplash)

ABRSM Guitar Levels in Detail

But what is the specific information featured in each grade? The following list highlights more particulars about which pieces, scales, and additional music knowledge are examined at every level of guitar exams with the ABRSM:

  • Practical Grade One: during the first grade of practical guitar training, students must choose three pieces of music to play from a list of many options including Tudor Dance by Longworth & Walker and Andantino by Aguado. Also, scales such as G and F majors are practised to get ready for the end of grade assessment.
  • Practical Grade Two: after you have passed the first grade of guitar exams, students move onto Practical Guitar Grade Two with the same requirements as Grade One; however, the only difference is the overall difficulty. Pieces that can be selected include The Meeting of the Waters and Menuet. Scales such as C and D major are analysed.
  • Practical Grade Three: now that you've passed two levels of Practical Guitar Grades, you deserve commendation; congrats! The structure of level three is the same as grades one and two with three pieces, scales, arpeggios, and sight-reading being honed. Grimstock and Air Italien are analysed if candidates select these pieces and arpeggios such as E and B minors are additionally examined.
  • Practical Grade Four: same as before, three pieces, arpeggios, and aural tests are reviewed by participants going through the Practical Grade Four of guitar exams from the ABRSM. Consider taking advantage of resources provided by the ABRSM to ensure success such as the audio downloads, the guitar exam pieces, and aural training in practice.
  • Practical Grade Five: considered an extremely crucial grade when studying the guitar, why? Well, for those who want to move onto the advanced levels of practical guitar six, seven, and eight, it is necessary to have passed the end of grade exam in level five or have an equivalent in Music Theory from another accredited exam board. So, although the general structure is the same as previous grades, the pressure is added to succeed in Grade Five. Consider taking advantage of the ABRSM apps such as Aural Trainer and Speedshifter to ensure success during the guitar exam.
  • Practical Grade Six: you've arrived at the advanced levels! Level six is organised in the same manner as all other grades. Pieces, scales, and sight-reading are practised and analysed; nonetheless, since it's an advanced level, a lot of studies is needed to grasp triumph during the examination process to move onto Practical Guitar Grade Seven. Pieces in List A such as Air and Pavane are studied.
  • Practical Grade Seven: another grade, another list of music pieces, scales, and arpeggios to analyse! In Guitar Grade, candidates are expected to perform and deliver nearly flawless performances at assessments since they have been studied for a while now and should possess the necessary skills to succeed. Students select three pieces from lists and focus a lot of attention on honing scales and arpeggios such as F major and minor etc.
  • Practical Grade Eight: the last Practical Guitar Grade is this one, and we know it's been a long journey but doesn't crossing the finish line make everything worthwhile? Of course! During this last level of training, candidates tune their guitar and effectively prepare themselves for the previous three pieces, scales, arpeggios, and aural tests.

It is essential to mention that as the level gets higher, the more practice is required and the recommendation of getting a private guitar tutor is even more valid. But where? Superprof! The massive online presence that Superprof currently has ensures that people in countries all around the world can find professional tutors in a location near them.

Also, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, online classes are becoming the norm, and it is exceptionally possible to learn guitar tips and tricks through videoconferencing platforms such as Zoom and Skype. Book a guitar lesson with a Superprof tutor today to ace your ABRSM guitar exams!

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